After nearly 30 years, the inscriptions on a hero stone discovered in Selakarichal and placed at Government Museum have been deciphered, revealing the name of a king who ruled Kongu Region in the 11th century.
The deciphering was done by three heritage enthusiasts – S. Anandhakumar, N. Sudhakar and R. Kumaravel – in coordination with C. Sivakumar, curator of the Government Museum. “We at the Museum estimated that the hero stone was from the 16th century based on its structure, but the inscriptions revealed that it was actually from the 11th century,” Mr. Sivakumar told.
The king, Veerakeralan Adhirajarajan, ruled from 1093 CE to 1116 CE and this stone dated back to 1099 CE, Mr. Kumaravel said. The king hailed from the Veerakeralan clan, who were the branch rulers of the Chera dynasty.
The inscriptions describe the death of a man from the Pooluvar clan in Selakarichal during a conflict. However, due to erosion of the stone, details such as his name and the grant offered could not be deciphered.
A particular line in the inscription that reads ‘Palayiravar Ilavar Rakshai’ denotes that warriors of the Palayiravar army, who were present in Kongu Region between 10th and 13th century, took the responsibility of safeguarding the grant offered to the man who died in the conflict, Mr. Kumaravel explained. Modern-day Palladam in Tiruppur district is spelt in the inscription as ‘Pallodam’.
In a statement, R. Poongundran, retired Assistant Director of the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology described this hero stone to be “historically significant” due to its antiquity and the inscriptions bearing the king’s name.
Adding to this, Mr. Sivakumar said that such antiquated hero stones were rare in Kongu Region despite the practice of erecting hero stones in the region was present since the Sangam period (6th century BCE to 1st century CE) in the region.
With a height of 114 cm and width of 99 cm, the hero stone is also unique in its design as it depicts the ‘hero’ in combat, holding the tuft (kudumi in Tamil) of his opponent with his left hand and punching the opponent with his right hand. Both of them were depicted with earrings known as Pathira Kundalam and wearing other ornaments on their hips, Mr. Sivakumar said.